Ghost stories are speculations, little experiments in death

Our story so far: One evening, I sat in the basement of the 126-year-old Methodist church by myself trying to squeeze in a coat of paint on the bathroom vanity before I couldn’t see anymore in the gathering twilight.

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implements of terror
Tyler stored his tools in the church basement just feet away from my makeshift paint station. If the boogeyman had arrived empty-handed, he wouldn’t go wanting for an implement of terror for long.


The sound was exactly like one heard in a horror movie before the boogeyman appeared with an axe or a chainsaw.

Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard once said “When hearing a door creak, the optimist thinks it’s opening, and the pessimist thinks it’s closing.” I didn’t know which camp I was in.

“Who goes there?” I called out loud.

No answer.

Maybe my imagination was getting the better of me. It was rare, actually, that I spent time alone in the church. Usually I was there during the day when Tyler, at the very least, was working and often, several other men. I remembered how I’d scoffed early on about churches being haunted. Maybe my disbelief had ticked someone—or something— off.


OK, this was real. It was not my imagination. I joined the camp of optimists and assumed this was a spirit with whom I could negotiate.

“I’m a good guy,” I said. “Let’s be friends. We can both live here peacefully. I want to fix things up, not tear things down.”

I began brushing paint faster.

Creeeeeeeeeeeeeak. Thud.

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Today’s headline is a quote from American writer Audrey Niffenegger. 

Tomorrow: The source of the phantom creak is revealed. Read about the culprit here.

That’s kind of creepy

Our story so far: While the drywallers worked upstairs and the concrete finishers labored outside, I holed up in the basement with creative projects that would find life as soon as Phase Four: Cabinets began.

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pieces of vanity
The dressers after a couple of coats of Sunken Pool.

In between everything else going on, I added coats of paint to the dresser that would ultimately become the upstairs bathroom vanity. Tyler set up a “paint parlor” in a corner of the basement for this type of work. A few weeks later on the recommendation of a friend, I would spend an evening learning about the wonders of mineral paint, which required only one or, at most, two coats for furniture projects like I was attempting. But at this point, I was using latex paint: Four coats of Sunken Pool, two coats of distressed Adirondack Blue (both from Behr available from Home Depot, of course) and then three coats of clear polyurethane. Plus sanding between every coat. Each coat required only about a half hour of time to apply, but I had to be patient and diligent in order to get drying time between coats.

One evening, early on in the garage foundation project, I sat in the basement by myself trying to squeeze in a coat of paint before I couldn’t see anymore in the gathering twilight. Usually, I caught a few minutes of MPR on my phone while meditating on my brush strokes, but that night, I just absorbed the silence of the church.

Until I heard a creepy creak. A door—somewhere—opened. Or closed.


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Tomorrow: Negotiations begin. Read about them here.